By Josh Brannock
The UNF women’s basketball team will play its first regular season game Nov. 11 against Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss.
The team looks to repeat its Nov. 5 performance against Valdosta State. In their only preseason game of the year, the Ospreys beat Valdosta State 57-41. Preseason All A-Sun team member, senior guard Brittany Kirkland, led the team with 18 points. Junior guard Fabiola Josil led the team with an impressive eight steals. The defense shined for UNF with a total of 20 steals and forced Valdosta to commit 28 turnovers.
“We don’t play with the underdog mentality,” coach Mary Tappmeyer said when asked about how they will prepare for a tough non-conference schedule. “Better teams are going to expose your weakness. That’s what the [non-conference] season is about, to prepare you for your conference season.”
When asked about her preseason recognition, Kirkland was humble.
“Accomplishments are great, but as a player I’m very team oriented,” she said. “A game can’t be won without the other four people on the court.”
The team’s next opponent, Ole Miss, is returning four of their starters from last season. Valencia McFarland will return to the Rebels after playing with Team USA in the Pan American Games this summer. Last year, Ole Miss finished in last place in the SEC and had a 10-19 overall record. In comparison, UNF finished sixth in the A-Sun with a 13-17 overall record.
UNF made it to the first round of the conference playoffs last year. They fell to crosstown rival Jacksonville University 56-52.
Preseason defensive player of the year, junior foward Lakira Jones, said the team needs to stick together in order to win throughout the season and improve on its early exit from the tournament.
“Some teams can play together until the middle of the season, but when things start going downhill teams start to break apart,” Jones said. “I expect us to play together as a team. That’s what I feel is the only way we can get to where we want.”